“A woman is like a tea bag, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I went on a Tea Tour for my First today. Yes, it’s a thing. And I found out some very shocking news: herbal tea isn’t really tea! Gasp. I just started drinking tea a year ago when I jumped ‘all in’ and decided to have a tea party (for 16 people). Tea parties are usually quaint but I didn’t want anybody to feel left out, so for me 16 is quaint. It turned out to be fun and that started me on my tea-drinking (or so I thought) exploits. I ONLY drink herbal teas. Which as I mentioned previously, aren’t real teas. I’ll explain.
TEA EDUCATION: “real” tea is derived from the camelia sinensis bush. Depending on how long the tea is allowed to oxidize and when and where on the plant the leaves are taken, will determine if you have green, black, white or oolong tea. Black tea has been allowed to oxidize the longest and has the strongest flavor. White tea is the most expensive because it can only be harvested for one week out of the year, it is the least processed of all the teas and is made from the baby buds of the camelia sinensis plant. Green tea is the middle of the road (as far as processing and oxidizing is concerned) between white and black tea. Oolong tea is withered in the sun, allowed to oxidize and twisted and curled.
By definition, “real” tea must be made from the leaves of the camelia sinensis bush. No matter what else you do to it from there, you have to start with those leaves for tea to truly be tea. Camelia sinensis contains caffeine and to get decaffeinated tea, the tea leaves have to be subjected to a chemical process which removes the caffeine (it can then be sold to company’s such as Monster and Red Bull for them to put in their high octane drinks). Celestial Seasonings sends their tea to Germany to have it decaffeinated with non-toxic carbon dioxide.
Back to herbal tea. I drink herbal tea for it’s medicinal value. Herbal tea was the medicine before we had medicine. Herbal tea is made from either pure herbs or combinations of herbs. Herbal teas utilize the leaves, stems, flowers, roots, bark or rhizomes of herbs whereas real “tea” only uses leaves. Herbal teas are the gumbo of the tea drinking world. They can be prepared as an infusion: steeping the non-woody parts of the plant in boiling water, or decoction: steeping the woody parts of the plant (roots or bark) in boiling water. Even though my herbal teas are not true teas, I shall still call them “tea”.
On the Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour, I was able to go into the Peppermint Room. This is a room that contains gazillions of satchel bags full of peppermint leaves, piled up high to the ceiling. Just one whiff in that room can completely clear out any sinus issues you may be having at the moment. Some people couldn’t stand it, their eyes watered and they had to stand in the hallway. Not me, I just breathed it in. I love peppermint tea, it’s my fave.
I also saw the production line that makes the cute little tea bags and boxes that we love so much. Back in the day, Celestial Seasonings actually sparked my desire for travel. Believe it or not, their art work of far-away, exotic places on the boxes of tea intrigued me and made me fantasize of traveling to many far away places. I may not have always drank the tea, but I definitely went with them on the fantasy tour in my mind. Today’s tour was a groovy trip down memory lane.